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7 Beginner Yoga Exercises for Men to Increase Mobility

7 Beginner Yoga Exercises for Men to Increase Mobility

Isn’t amazing how the culture of the (physical Yoga) Hatha Yoga evolved mostly among women? Are we men ashamed to practice this body-mind-spirit wisdom because it became a women’s thing, or discriminative of the idea that we men are tough enough and don’t need this kind of “activity”?

We know that the practice of Hatha Yoga was brought to our western culture in the 20th century by masculine Yoga masters, and that mostly men are the creators of the original Yoga Sutra of Patanjali approx. 200 B.C.E – 200 C.E., known also as Raja Yoga or King’s Yoga – the basis of all other Yoga forms practiced around the world.[1]

Keep in mind that Yoga goes much deeper than the physical posture and breathing, yet they are the start and the basis for the inward journey of self-inquiry and self-discovery. The deeper you immerse in the practice, the more you’ll happen to find out about it. An Asana – aasana[2] or Yoga posture is practiced with a purpose to mobilize the body and mind for achieving mental skills. This tells us that Yoga indeed is great for men.

Not long ago, when I invited a friend of mine to a Yoga Asana session I was teaching, he looked at me discouraged with a shy smile on his face, saying “Really, Yoga for men? I don’t know about that. Me, with this belly, tense as I am, it would be an embarrassment to show myself in front of the other more flexible people, let alone perform postures.” I smiled back, and with encouraging voice told him “You always talk about getting in shape! Just come over please and see how simple yoga exercises can change the way you feel about yourself!”

With the 7 exercises that follow, in just an hour, we succeeded to remove his misconceptions he had about yoga for men, and changed his attitude positively. Although he was never fond of practicing in groups, he got hooked up – he liked all the beginner postures and started practicing at home regularly and diligently.

The most important and ideal Yoga posture are: “sthirasukhamaasanam” – steady and comfortable posture. Sthira meaning steady, stable and strong and sukham meaning comfortable, easy and peaceful, and aasana meaning body posture or pose.

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This is the entire instruction from the whole Yoga Sutra (YS, 2.46-2.48) on how a Yoga posture ought to be performed. As long as you apply the elements of stability and comfort to your body posture and align it with your breath (YS, 2.47), you perform the aasana correctly.

Every man who wants to gain control over his physical and mental well-being and achieve a healthier lifestyle has the reason to get into Yoga. And here is the deal, in the next seven Yoga exercises you’ll see how to get into Yoga safely and successfully. Get ready and get healthier now!

1. Tadaasana – The Mountain Pose (Variation A – Ideal Alignment)

    1. Stand up on your feet (see type A), preferably bare feet so you can connect to the ground. Breathe deeply and slowly.
    2. Feet aligned with the hips.
    3. Kneecaps and thigh muscles slightly contracted.
    4. Pelvis leveled horizontally.
    5. Chest open.
    6. Shoulder blades relaxed.
    7. Connect the tip of the thumb with the tip of the index finger – energy re-circulation.
    8. Face muscles relaxed (eyes slightly closed, mouth slightly open).
    9. Breathe gently in this position.
    10. On inhalation, your head is pulling (cranially) upwards, lengthening the spine.
    11. Create a virtual thread inside your body from the heels up to the crown – tip of your head.
    12. Breathe gently, make sure your whole body is aligned as instructed.
    13. Connect to the thread and notice its movement.
    14. Stay in this position for 12 breaths – 4 sec. inhale and 6 sec. exhale – approx. 2 minutes according to the deep breathing exercise no. 1 in my previous post.

    When practicing physical Yoga, we are counting breaths instead measuring time. Aligning the breath with the body posture is an element for the connection with your inner clock – a closer look on what’s going on inside you – inner awareness. The goal of the Mountain Pose is:

    • Stabilizing the nervous system through breathing.
    • Building energy and releasing tension.
    • Stabilizing the movement of the thread (inner stability) through the help of breathing.
    • Developing inner awareness.
    • Awareness of inner movement of body’s stability (the strength) and comfort (the easiness and lightness).
    • Creating a rhythmical breathing.
    • Improving focus, concentration and observation.

    2. Virabhadraasana – The Warrior Pose (Variation)

      1. From Mountain pose exhale gently make a step forward (approx. 3 feet) with your right foot (see picture above) and slowly bend you right knee so your pelvis sinks (only as far as it is comfortable) towards the floor. Tip: Place left knee on the mat or a pillow if your muscles can’t support this posture.
      2. Make sure your body weight is balanced 50/50 on both legs.
      3. Inhale gently, reach fingertips towards the sky – push palms together, chest is open, shoulder blades relaxed – go down.
      4. Breathe consciously, deeply and rhythmically (abdomens relaxed). Be aware of the expansion of your groin area as you inhale.
      5. Focus your gaze on one point and remain in this position for five slow, deep breaths (or for as many as it feels right for you).
      6. Concentrate completely on the contractions of your thigh muscles and the pressure on your hip joints. Balance your weight 50/50 on both feet.
      7. Build energy with each inhalation!
      8. Release tension with each exhalation!
      9. Don’t let the muscle contraction intensify too much and disturb your breathing rhythm. Float the pelvis up and down to balance the intensity of the muscle contraction.
      10. Do the same with your arms. The moment you feel that the muscle contraction of your shoulders disturb you breathing, spread and lower the arms.
      11. Exhaling, make a step back, lower your arms and come back to Mountain pose.
      12. Have a break with one long, deep breath.
      13. Repeat the same (step 1 to 11) with the left foot.

      Make three rounds (3 x right foot, 3x left foot). The goal of the Warrior Pose is:

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      • Building energy and releasing tension.
      • Stretching and strengthening thigh and gluteus muscles.
      • Stretching hips (groin muscles) and mobilizing hip joints.
      • Strengthening back muscles.

      3. Trikonaasana – The Triangle Pose (Variation)

        1. From Mountain pose, spread your feet approx. 2-3 feet laterally. Left foot 0°, right foot 90° to the right (adjust the degree of your feet as you see fit. Tip: For better alignment and results do this pose against a wall and adjust your posture with the hands).
        2. Inhale gently, spread your arms at the height of your shoulders (palms facing forward).
        3. Further slow, deep inhalation lengthens the spine upwards.
        4. Slowly exhale and from the lowest vertebra begin to bend to the right (vertebra for vertebra, from the lowest upwards). The left hip goes lightly to the outside. Slowly! When bending you must feel firm and comfortable. Your right palm lays on your right kneecap (or lower, if you are more flexible). Your left hand stretches up vertically following the bending of your spine.
        5. Focus your gaze on one point and remain in this position for five slow, deep breaths (or for as many as it feels right for you). Feel the flexibility of your spine and any tensions in the back, legs or pelvic area.
        6. With each inhalation build up energy and with each exhalation release tension. Slowly adjust your pelvis, torso, neck, etc. if necessary during your rhythmical breathing.
        7. With an exhalation, slowly, come back into position no. 3.
        8. Have a break with one long, deep breath.
        9. Repeat the same (step 1 to 8) going to the left.

        Make three rounds (left and right). The goal of the Triangle Pose is:

        • Building energy and releasing tension.
        • Mobilization of spine, pelvis area and groin muscles.
        • Mobilization of lower back (lumbar spine) and shoulders.
        • Strengthening superficial and core back muscles.

        4. Malasana – The Squat Pose

          1. From Triangle pose come into Mountain pose and for a five deep gentle breaths, rotate the pelvis (in both sides) to align your muscles, tendons and ligaments.
          2. Spread your feet approx. 2-3 feet laterally, open both feet approx. 45° outwards.
          3. Inhale gently extending the whole body upwards, palms together pushed to the chest.
          4. Exhale gently, go into squat lowering your pelvis – keep your back straight as you go down. Your upper body leans slightly forward and your elbows touch the inner side of your knees. Tip: Lower slowly only as much as you feel comfortable. If you have to inhale on your way down, just do it only to be able to exhale lowering further. The goal is to squat so your buttocks touch your heels, but you go only as much as your posture feels steady and comfortable.
          5. Find your optimal position and stay there for five gentle breaths (or for as many as it feels right for you). Chest remains open at all times, push your elbows gently against your knees so you stretch the groin muscles.
          6. Do gentle moves in this posture so you align your hips, thigh muscles and lower back optimally.
          7. Use your thigh muscles to come up to Mountain Pose, but only after you have exhaled 50% of your air volume (don’t stand up while your lungs are under pressure full of air).

          Repeat this five times (adjust repetition as you see fit, if you feel comfortable and energetic do more than five, if not, do less). The goal of the Squat Pose is:

          • Building energy and releasing tension.
          • More flexibility in groin muscles.
          • Stretching and strengthening lower back muscles.
          • Mobilization of hip joints.
          • Strengthening thigh muscles and knees.

          5. Bhujangasana – The Cobra Pose (Variation)

            1. From Mountain Pose exhale gently and lower down to Squat Pose, place your palms and knees on the floor and gently stretch your body onto the floor. Your forehead touches the floor, your palms are placed right next to your chest – below your shoulders.
            2. Relax your whole body, have a gentle deep breath, feel the connection of your whole body with the floor. Put a light pressure on your palms, as preparing for a push-up.
            3. Inhaling gently, slowly lift up your head and neck and feel the pressure 50/50 on your hands and pelvis area.
            4. Using the strength of your arms come up vertebra for vertebra beginning from the lowest one. The upper back, neck and head are straight, chin muscles relaxed, mouth slightly open. As you’re half way through, inhale further to open up the chest maximally and erect your upper body (only as much as possible). Remember, the posture must be firm and comfortable.
            5. Exhale through your mouth and let the weight of your upper body hang on your shoulders. There should be light pressure on the lower back. Adjust the position of your hands on the floor so your shoulders support the weight of your upper body optimally.
            6. Take five slow deep breaths in this position and feel the pressure (or relieve) on different parts of your body.
            7. Experiment – adjust the position of your torso moving it, especially paying attention to your lower back.

            Repeat five times. The goal of the Cobra Pose is:

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            • Building energy and releasing tension.
            • Mobilizing each spine vertebra.
            • Strengthening arm, shoulder and back muscles.
            • Stretching groin muscles.

            6. Chaturanga Dandaasana – The Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Variation)

              1. From the cobra pose – body and forehead on the floor, inhale deeply – put your palms close to the chest, put your toes on the floor, preparing for push-up.
              2. Exhale, lift up your head, tighten your abdomen muscles, use the strength of your arms and lift up your body just a few inches.
              3. You are in four-limbed staff pose, take five gentle, deep breaths (adjust body height accordingly, if necessary put your knees on the floor as support).
              4. Exhale, come back to the floor – relax the whole body placing the forehead on the floor.

              Repeat this exercise three times. The goal of the four-limbed staff pose is:

              • Building energy and releasing tension.
              • Stabilizing all muscles involved.
              • Strengthening back muscles, anterior shoulder muscles, chest and arm muscles.
              • Strengthening thigh and gluteus muscles.

              7. Phalakaasana – The Plank Pose (Variation)

                1. From your relaxed position on the floor, inhale deeply, place your palms close to the chest, lift up your head, put your toes on the floor, preparing for push-up.
                2. Exhale through your teeth, tighten your abdomen muscles, use the strength of your arms, and push-up your body to come into a plank pose.
                3. Adjust your palms or feet to find the ideal position and stay in for five slow deep breaths. Tip: To mobilize (strengthen and flex) your body, do variations of this exercise by slowly lowering the pelvis (when exhaling) – the knees touch the floor and balance the pressure between the arms and knees.
                4. Exhale, come down to the floor and relax your body. Inhale – feel the energy coming in, exhale – feel the tension leaving your body.

                Repeat this exercise three times. The goal of the plank pose is:

                • Building energy and releasing tension.
                • Strengthening chest, arm, and shoulder muscles.
                • Strengthening overall back muscles and lumbar spine area.
                • Strengthening thigh and cough muscles.
                • Building endurance and flexibility.

                Your Yoga Session is finished. Spend a moment lying on the floor breathing gently and deeply, and store all the movements and experiences you have undergone in this practice. Now having more strength and vitality, take this experience and apply it constructively in your daily life. Know that you will come a step further in your next practice and experience a new insight.

                Final Thoughts

                The practice of these Yoga exercises should take some 45-50 minutes, however you can change the repetitions and number of breaths according to your physical and mental fitness.

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                Looking at all these simple yet highly beneficial postures, we can conclude that apart from the physiological benefits as mobilizing and strengthening the body, more important benefits out of these exercises are:

                • The development of mental skills such as focus, motivation, observation, confidence, concentration by turning inwards through the focus on gentle breathing.
                • The regaining of vitality and building of stamina and resilience through the repetition of movement.
                • The reduction of stress and neuroticism [3] as a result of the above two.

                The benefits mentioned above are perceptible when a balanced flow between breath and body movement is created.

                Yoga can take you to a new beginning for a prosperous change that sets new goals with great motive for improvement. Let these 7 Yoga Exercises be your goal.

                Make a routine (in your own rhythm – harmonically) by practicing these exercises every single day. You will see positive physical and mental changes in a matter of weeks.

                And if you choose to be a part of a yoga class don’t worry about how you look, and what you’re going to wear as long as your clothes are comfortable. Stay focused on what you want to achieve on a physical, mental and spiritual level.

                Keep in mind that everything you need for that new change in your life is sitting right here within you. Start to practice and the process of achievement will unfold! I salute the spirit in you!

                More About Yoga

                Featured photo credit: Artem Beliaikin via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
                [2] Wikipedia: Asana
                [3] NCBI: Neuroticism

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                Marcin Gil

                Marcin is a spiritual being just like anyone challenging to uncover what we already have โ€“ spiritual freedom.

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                Last Updated on November 18, 2020

                50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

                50 Habits of Highly Successful People You Should Learn

                If you’re like me and really into self-development, you’ve probably read many of the thousands of self-help books out there on the market. But also like me, you probably find all the information a bit overwhelming.

                That’s why I wanted to do the self-less task of taking the most important, life-changing lessons I’ve drawn from these books and condensed them into 50 key points.

                Here’re 50 habits of successful people you should learn:

                1. Believe It to See It

                Our minds tend to focus on what’s happening around us and refuse to see what could happen. Only when you trust in what’s possible and dare to dream big, big things can happen for you.

                2. See Problems as a Wonderful Gift

                While others only see problems and give up, successful people use the problem as a lesson to find improvement in themselves or the task at hand.

                3. Keep Looking for Solutions

                Even if they’re knee-deep in problems, successful people will still put all of their focus on finding solutions.

                4. Remember It’s All About the Journey

                Successful people are conscious and methodical in creating their own success. They don’t sit around doing the bare minimum, hoping success finds them.

                5. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

                There’s so much fear on the road to success, but instead of letting that fear control and limit them, successful people do a good job of just forging ahead regardless.

                6. Always Ask Productive Questions

                It’s all about asking the right questions. Successful people make sure they are questions that will elicit information for a more productive, creative and positive mindset moving forward.

                7. Understand the Best Waste of Energy Is Complaining

                Successful people know that choosing to see the negative side of things will only create a useless and unproductive state.

                8. Don’t Play the Blame Game

                Taking responsibility for actions and outcomes is a form of empowerment that you can build your success upon. While the act of blaming others or outside circumstances takes this empowerment away from you.

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                9. Maximize Your Strengths

                Not every successful person is simply more talented than the rest, but they do use what they know they’re good at to achieve more successful results.

                10. Be in It to Win It

                Successful people are busy, productive and proactive. Instead of sitting around over-thinking and over-planning a great idea, they just take a step towards it no matter how small.

                11. Know That Success Attracts Success

                People who are successful surround themselves and seek out like-minded people. They understand the importance of being part of a team and forge win-win relationships.

                12. Actually Choose to Be Successful

                Dreaming big is a massive part of being successful even if your dream seems impossible. Ambition is a mindset that needs to be a daily conscious choice.

                13. Visualize, Visualize, Visualize!

                You’ve got to see your success in your mind’s eye even before it comes. Successful people clarify and get that certainty about what they want their reality to look like rather than being mere spectators of life.

                14. Be a One-Off Original

                Successful people look for what’s working and then create a unique spin on it. Imitating only regurgitates other people’s ideas with no originality.

                15. The Perfect Time to Act Is Now

                Waiting for the right time to act is basically procrastination wrapped up in an excuse. Successful people know there’s never a perfect time so they may as well just do it now.

                16. Keep Learning, Keep Growing

                Continuous learning is the key to a successful life. Whether it’s academic, being a student of life or actionable learning, it’s all about expanding your knowledge and personal development.

                17. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

                Successful people have the knack for finding positive aspects in all people and circumstances no matter what.

                18. Having a Bad Day? Do It Anyway!

                We all have bad moods but it shouldn’t be an excuse to stop everything. Giving into a bad mood just stop-starts your life, slowing success way down.

                19. Sometimes Risky Business Is Needed

                Calculated risks are a must for success. It’s about weighing the pros and cons while moving forward with that element of trust.

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                20. Accept Challenge All the Time

                Dealing with problems head-on is a must to be successful. Successful people also face challenges in order to improve themselves.

                21. Make Your Own Luck

                In the mindset of a successful person, there’s no such thing as ‘luck’ or ‘fate’. They take control to actively and consciously create their own best life.

                22. Ignite Your Initiative

                While many people are reactive, successful people are proactive – taking action before they have to.

                23. Be the Master of Your Emotions

                Being effective at managing emotions is key on the road to success. That’s not to say successful people don’t feel like we all do, but they’re just not slaves to their emotions.

                24. Champion in Communication

                Consciously working on effective communication skills gets anyone closer to success.

                25. Plan Your Life Strategically

                Successful people’s lives aren’t a clumsy series of unplanned events and outcomes, they methodically work at turning their plans into a reality.

                26. Become Exceptional at What You Do

                To become exceptional, you typically have to do things that most won’t. To become successful, hard decisions need to be made and acting on them is crucial.

                27. Choose to Live Outside of Your Comfort Zone

                While many people are pleasure junkies and avoid pain and discomfort at all costs, successful people understand the value and benefits of working through the tough stuff that most would avoid.

                28. Live by Core Values

                Successful people firstly identify their core values and what’s important to them, then do their best to live a life that reflects these values.

                29. Realize Money Isn’t Everything

                Money and success are not interchangeable and the most successful people understand this. Putting money on a pedestal and equating it to success is a dangerous mindset to have. Success comes in many forms.

                30. Don’t Get Carried Away

                Successful people understand the importance of discipline and self-control and as a result they are happy to take the road less travelled.

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                31. Self-Worth Is Not Tied to Success

                Successful people are secure. They do not derive their self-worth from what they own, who they know, where they live or what they look like.

                32. Kindness Breeds Kindness (And Success)

                Generosity and kindness is a common trait among long-term successful people. It’s important to take pleasure in helping others achieve.

                33. More Humility, Less Arrogance

                Successful people are humble and happy to admit and apologize for mistakes. This is because they’re confident in their ability. They are happy to learn from others and happy to make others look good rather than seek their own personal glory.

                34. Change Opens New Doors

                People who are successful are adaptable and embrace change, while the majority are creatures of comfort and habit. They are comfortable with, and embrace, the new and the unfamiliar.

                35. Success Requires a Healthy Body

                It’s not just how you think, it’s about how you show up for success. Successful people understand the importance of being physically well, not for vain reasons but because being in tiptop condition creates a better personal life for success.

                36. Laziness Just Doesn’t Exist

                Successful people are never considered lazy. Yes, they can relax when they need to, but working hard is their game.

                37. Resilience by the Bucket Load

                When difficulty strikes, most would throw in the towel, but successful people are just warming up.

                38. Feedback Is Just Another Chance to Improve

                How people react to feedback determines their potential for success. Being open to constructive criticism and acting on it to improve is most seen in those who are successful.

                39. Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

                If people are hanging out with toxic and negative people, then they need to take a look at themselves. Successful people hang out with others who are positive and supportive.

                40. Can’t Control It? Forget It

                Successful people don’t invest time or emotional energy into things which they have no control of.

                41. Swim Against the Tide

                Successful people are not people-pleasers and they don’t need constant approval from others in order to move ahead.

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                42. Alone Time Is Valuable Time

                More self-worth means being more comfortable with your own company. Successful people are more happy and see the value in spending time alone.

                43. Self-Standard Is Higher Than Most

                Everyone has a choice to set high standards for themselves. Successful people do this, which in turn produces greater commitment, more momentum, a better work ethic and of course, better results.

                44. Failure Isn’t Rationalized

                While many use age, health, lack of time, ‘bad luck’, or lack of opportunity to explain away their failure, the key to success is finding a way to succeed despite facing these challenges.

                45. Down Time Is an Important Part of a Routine

                Having an off switch and taking time to do things that make them happy is a common trait of a successful person. Take a look at here The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

                46. Career Isn’t Who You Are, It’s What You Do

                Successful people know their career isn’t their identity. They are multi-dimensional and don’t define themselves by their job.

                47. Be Interested in Only the Path of Resistance

                While most people look for the easiest way or the shortcut, successful people are more interested in the most effective way. They look for the course of action which will produce the best results over the long term.

                48. Follow Through

                Many spend their life starting things that they never finish, but successful people get the job done. Even when the excitement and the novelty has worn off they still follow through and finish.

                49. Invest in All Your Dimensions

                We’re not just physical and psychological beings, but emotional and spiritual creatures as well. Successful people consciously work at being healthy and productive on all levels.

                50. Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

                To obtain success, it’s important to practice what you preach. Successful people don’t talk about the theory, they live the reality.

                So there you have it, a summary of what I’ve learned from self-help books. But of course, you need to start taking actions so you will get closer to success too.

                Bonus: 5 Bad Habits To Quit

                More About Success

                Featured photo credit: Juan Jose via unsplash.com

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